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It started out as an idea from Connor Doherty, the son of Nike Creative Director and OHSU Doernbecher Foundation board member Michael Doherty. His suggestion — enabling the hospital’s young patients to engage their imaginations by designing their very own Nike sneakers — formalized in 2003 as the OHSU Doernbecher Freestyle program. Fourteen years and 85 patient-designers later, his idea has raised $17 million for the hospital, brightened the lives of countless kids and caught the attention of sneaker lovers and collectors across the country.

Every day, countless young patients at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital demonstrate what it means to go all in as they bravely face serious illness. This is the story of six of them. To learn how Andrew, Amyiah, Brayden, Brody, Carissa and Tylan go all in, check out the 2017 Doernbecher Freestyle collection, which is a reflection of their remarkable lives and launches start on November 18 with 100 percent of the proceeds from the sales of the collection to benefit OHSU Doernbecher.


Tylan was born with truncus arteriosus, a rare heart defect that is fatal if not corrected. But while his heart may not function perfectly, it’s full of love for his family. “They’ve always been there for me, even when things get tough,” he said. Tylan included his own personal mantra on the tab of the SB Zoom Stefan Janoski: be kind. That’s the theme of his very own YouTube channel, which he created to help other people feel better. “At the end of every video, it says ‘be kind’ because you never know what someone else is going through,” he said. “That’s why you want to be the best you can be to them.” Because he thinks every fisherman needs a good fishing shoe, Hibbard also designed his shoe with nautical details. A school of trophy fish swims against a deep blue background.


'Brayden Strong' is Brayden Sparkman's nickname, and it is also an apt description for how he’s choosing to fight acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “When I was diagnosed, everyone in the community started calling me by that nickname,” he explained. “For me, it means trying your best and leading by example.” Sparkman is an avid baseball player who hopes to play professionally one day. His Air Huarache Run is a tribute to the game and features red baseball stitching, his own logo and nickname, which describe his playing style. The prominent display of orange is a nod to his favorite baseball and football teams.


Like Andrew, the ultra-lightweight VaporMax is also built for speed. It features vibrant shades of green and purple that coordinate perfectly with his favorite BMX jersey. Andrew used his initials to create a cool logo, and came up with his own hashtag for the outsole: #ilovethefam. “My family is my hero,” he explains. “They’ve been so supportive and caring throughout this whole thing.” According to Doernbecher social worker Emily Somervell, Andrew shares his family’s caring, compassionate traits. “For Andrew, helping others brings him the most happiness,” she said. “That’s why he’s looking forward to becoming a scientist who helps treat and hopefully cure cystic fibrosis.” After participating in the Freestyle program, Andrew says he has another career aspiration: designing shoes.


Carissa’s Air Jordan XII is perfect for dancing and also a showcase for her favorite things. You’ll find her stuffed dog Max on the outsole, a picture of her family inside, and a slice of pizza on the laces. “I put pizza on my shoe because pizza is delicious!” she smiles. Of all the things that Carissa loves most, her twin sister Savannah tops the list, and her name appears on the heel tab of the left shoe. Carissa was born without kidneys, but Savannah helped her stay alive in the womb until she could begin dialysis. “She’s the best sister ever,” said Carissa of her twin.


Amyiah’s colorful ombre Air Max Thea Ultra Flyknit features her name loud and proud, as well as a logo comprised of a heart with angel wings flying over the words ROCK STAR. “Sometimes I think I’m kind of a rock star,” she laughed. “And the angel heart is a symbol that means a lot to my mom. She was in the military, so it represents freedom. Besides, she’s my guardian angel.” Besides being true to herself, Amyiah also believes being true to her roots, which is why the inside of one shoe features a map of her hometown in Oklahoma, while the other contains a map of Oregon. Amyiah moved to Oregon in 2015 to be closer to family and to be treated for sickle cell anemia, which requires monthly transfusions at Doernbecher.


To help in his fight against complex brain malformation, Brody Miller, an aspiring comic book artist, dreamed up an alter ego, Generator Man, who is featured on his Air More Uptempo. “Generator Man is based on me,” he explains. “Not only can he shoot healing energy out of his hands, he also has the powers of mind control.” Other super-powered features include a glow-in-the-dark outsole that reveals the words BE STRONG. “With all my surgeries, I’ve had to be really strong,” he explains. There’s also a giant BPM down the side, which stands for “beats per minute” as well as his initials, Brody Preston Miller.
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